Should the Ravens pick up fifth-year options for Rashod Bateman, Odafe Oweh?

Both young players have a lot to prove.

AFC Championship - Kansas City Chiefs v Baltimore Ravens
AFC Championship - Kansas City Chiefs v Baltimore Ravens / Perry Knotts/GettyImages

The Baltimore Ravens not only have to decide which free agents to pursue in free agency and which to let hit the open market, but Eric DeCosta needs to figure out if former first-round draft picks Rashod Bateman and Odafe Oweh are worth retaining for the long haul after unimpressive starts to their careers.

While Bateman was through to be an instant impact player and Oweh was eyed as a gamble on rare speed and athleticism at the position, both of them were identified as players who could be franchise cornerstones on both sides of the ball. They've both had some moments, but not enough to warrant any sort of exalted status.

Bateman has just 93 catches and four touchdowns in three seasons, even if his tape showed he was getting separation more regularly last year than he was prior. The toolsy Oweh has 13 sacks in his three NFL seasons with Baltimore, never topping the 5.0 sacks he put up during his rookie season.

With neither of them making a Pro Bowl or hitting the playtime barometers that would guarantee them some extra money, Bateman and Oweh are eligible for the basic fifth-year option worth $14.3 million for the former Minnesota star and $13.3 million for the former Penn State pass-rushing dynamo.

If the Ravens want to both field the most competitive team possible and avoid getting put in a financial bind, the best move for them might be letting Bateman prove himself in 2024 while picking up the option for Oweh.

The Baltimore Ravens must pick up fifth-year option for Odafe Oweh, decline Rashod Bateman

Bateman is worth trying again in 2024 to see if there is anything that can be unearthed beneath the surface, but paying him that sort of money in his fifth NFL season where there hasn't been any indication he can be a Pro Bowl talent is quite risky. The Ravens may be better off adding veterans at his spot in free agency.

Oweh, on the other hand, saw his pressure rate rise and still managed to get to the quarterback at a healthy rate despite sacks being split alongside names like free agent Justin Madubuike and Jadeveon Clowney. Oweh was always going to be a multi-year bet on measurable due to poor college production, and 2023 reaffirmed Baltimore has something worthwhile on their hands.

Declining the option may not be the be-all, end-all for their careers. In fact, Patrick Queen performed so well in 2023 that he could be in line for a gigantic contract in free agency. However, with limited flexibility once the Lamar Jackson, Roquan Smith, and (eventual) Kyle Hamilton contracts go into effect, the Ravens can't pay both of these players top value.